Whoever divides innovation [in the religion] into good innovation (bid'ah hasanah), and sinful innovation (bid'ah sayyi'ah), has committed wrong, and has opposed the Prophet's statement:
"Every innovation is a misguidance"
Because the Messenger, peace be upon him, ruled that innovation - all of it - is misguidance, and this says that not all innovation is misguidance, rather there is good innovation. Al-Hafidh Ibn Rajab said in his commentary to Al-Arba'in:
"So his, peace be upon him, statement, 'Every innovation is misguidance' is from the all encompassing word, not excluding from it anything. And it is the greatest principle from the principles of the Religion. And it is associated with his statement, 'Whoever invents in this affair of ours, what is not from it, then it is rejected'. So whoever invents things and attributes them to the religion, and it does not have an origin in the religion to return to, then it is misguidance, and the Religion is free from those things. And equal to that are matters of beliefs, or actions, or statements whether hidden, or manifest."
And there is not a proof for them that there is good innovation, except for the statement of 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, regarding the tarawih prayer:
"What a good innovation this is!" (ni'imatul bida'atu hadhihi)
And they also say verily there were things invented, and they were not objected to by the Salaf, like the collection of the Qur'an into one Book, and the writing of the hadith, and recording them. So the answer to these is that these are matters which have an origin in the law (shar'), so they are not newly invented. And the statement of 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, "What a good innovation this is!", he desires the linguistic innovation, and not the religious innovation (al-bida'at ash-shar'iyyah). So whatever has an origin in the law, returns to it. If it is said that it is an innovation, then it is an innovation in language, and not in Islamic Law. So the religious innovation is what does not have an origin for it to return to. So the collecting of the Qur'an into one book has for it an origin in the law to return to, because the Prophet had commanded the recording of the Qur'an, but it was written scattered so the Companions collected it into one book for it's protection. Indeed the Prophet prayed tarawih with his Companions nightly, and they had preferable fear about it in the appointment [of an Imam], and the continuing of the Companions in praying in separate groups in the lifetime of the Prophet and after his passing, up until 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab united them on one Imam like they used to be behind the Prophet, peace be upon him, and this is not an innovation in the Religion. And the writing of the hadith also has an origin for it in the Law. Indeed the Prophet, upon whom be peace, commanded the writing of some ahadith for some of his Companions, may Allah be pleased with them all, so as to study that from it.
And there was warning against writing it on regular paper according to his advice fearing that there would get mixed with the Qur'an, that which was not from it. So when the Prophet, peace be upon him, passed away, this warning was done away with - because the Qur'an was completed, and vowelized before his passing. So the Muslims recorded the hadith after that, preserving it from destruction. And may Allah reward Islam and the Muslims with good when they preserve the Book of their Lord, and the Sunnah of their Prophet, peace be upon him, from destruction, and the mockery of the scornful.
And Verily Allah the Exalted Knows Best.
Translation and footnotes by Maaz Qureshi
- Many of the people of innovation say that the word kullu in the hadith about innovated matters does not mean everything, Al-Hafidh Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali says in Jami' al-Ulum wa'l-Hikam (2/89) in commentary to the part of the hadith, " ... and beware of the newly invented matter", "contains a warning to the Ummah from following the newly invented innovations, and he stressed this by saying, ' ... and every innovation is a misguidance'. And the meaning of bid'ah is everything that is newly invented that has no basis in the Shari'ah that would prove it. As for that which has a basis in the Shari'ah that would prove it then this is not a bid'ah in the Shari'ah even if it be a bid'ah according to the language. And in the Sahih of Muslim from Jabir from the Prophet that he used to say in his sermons, ' ... the best speech is the Book of Allah, and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad, and the worst of matters are the newly invented matters and every bid'ah is a misguidance' ". And Imam Ahmad reports from the report of Ghadif ibn Al-Harith ash-Shimali, "Abdul-Malk ibn Marwan sent (someone) to me and he said: Indeed we gather the people for two matters: raising the hands (for supplication) upon the minbar on the day of Jum'ah and giving exhortations after the fajr and 'asr prayers. So he said: As for these two matters, then they are examples of your innovations in my opinion and I will not accept anything of them from you because the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, 'A people do not introduce an innovation except that the likes of it is raised from the Sunnah (ie. forgotten and neglected) and sticking to the Sunnah is better than innovating an innovation.' And something similar is reported from Ibn 'Umar. And as for what has occurred from some of the Salaf in their declaring some bid'ah to be good then this is regards to bid'ah in it's linguistic meaning not it's shar'i meaning, and from these is the saying of 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, when he gathered the people for the standing of Ramadan behind one Imam. [He gives reasons as to why this is so, but these have already been mentioned in other articles, and some of them above, so I will not repeat them] And from them the adhan for Jum'ah that was increased on by 'Uthman due to the need of the people and it is reported from Ibn 'Umar that he said this was a bid'ah. And maybe he meant what his father meant concerning the standing during the month of Ramadan. And from them collecting the mushaf as one book and the Prophet, upon whom be peace, used to command that the revelation be written and there is no difference in this between writing separately or as one collection, rather one collection has more benefit ... [mentioning more examples] ... And Abu Nu'aym reports with a chain of narration from Ibrahim ibn Junayd who said: I heard Ash-Shafi'i saying: 'bid'ah is of two types'. And he depended upon the saying of 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, 'what a good bid'ah this is' and the meaning of Ash-Shafi'i, may Allah have mercy upon him, is as we have mentioned previously; that the foundation for the blameworthy bid'ah is that which does not have a basis in the Shari'ah that can be referred to - and this is a bid'ah in the convention of the Shari'ah. As for the praiseworthy bid'ah then that is what agrees with the Sunnah - meaning that is has a basis in the Sunnah that can be referred to, and this is a bid'ah in it's linguistic meaning not in it's Shari'ah meaning due to it's conforming with the Sunnah. And another statement has been reported from Ash-Shafi'i that explains this, and that is, 'newly invented matters are of two types.' " [end] So every innovation is a misguidance, contrary to what some may have you believe. ^back
- The alleged statement of Imam Ash-Shafi'i is another ploy used by the people of bid'ah to try to legislate their innovations into the complete and perfected Religion of Allah. ^back
- The Shaykh, Salih al-Fawzan, quoted from Al-Hafidh Ibn Rajab, so it would be useful to quote the full discussion; Al-Hafidh Ibn Rajab said in commentary of the hadith, "Whosoever introduces something in this affair of ours which is not part of it then it must be rejected." And the hadith, "Whosoever does an action which we have not commanded must be rejected", "This hadith contains a great principle from amongst the principles if Islam, for just as the hadith 'indeed actions are by intentions' is the scale (to judge the action in) it's inward form this hadith is the scale (to the action in) it's outward form. Just as any action that is not done seeking the Face of Allah, the Exalted, does not bestow any reward upon the actor, similarly any action that has not been commanded by Allah and His Messenger is rejected. And everyone that innovates in the religion that which Allah and His Messenger have not given permission for, then it is nothing in the religion ... And this hadith in it's wording indicates that every action that has not been commanded by the Legislator is rejected, and it's understanding indicates that every action that has been commanded is not rejected. And the meaning of his command here is his 'religion and law' as is the meaning of his saying in the other narration, 'Whosoever introduces something in this affair of ours which is not part of it must be rejected'. Therefore the meaning is that whosoever's action is outside the Shari'ah and not bound by the Shari'ah, is rejected. And his saying, 'which we have not commanded' indicates it is necessary for the actions of the actors to fall under the rules and regulations of the Shari'ah and that the rules of the Shari'ah be the judge to command them or forbid them. So whosoever's action falls under the rules and regulations of the Shari'ah, in agreement with them, then his action is accepted, and otherwise it is rejected ... and whosoever seeks to draw close to Allah with an action that Allah and His Messenger, peace be upon him, have not appointed as a means of drawing close to Allah then his action is false and rejected ... And the Messenger, peace be upon him, saw a person standing in the sun, and so he inquired about him and it was said in reply, 'he has taken an oath to stand and not to sit or take shade, and to fast.' So the Prophet, peace be upon him, ordered him to sit and seek the shade and to complete his fast. [Bukhari] So he did not make his standing and exposure to the sun a means of getting close (to Allah) such that it would require fulfilling the oath. And it is reported that this event occurred on the day of Jum'ah at time of hearing the khutbah of the Prophet, peace be upon him, while he was on the minbar. So this man made the oath to stand and not sit or seek the shade for as long as the Prophet gave his sermon, in glorification / respect of listening to the sermon of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and yet the Messenger, upon whom be peace, did not make this a means of getting close to Allah that would require fulfilment of his oath. Despite the fact that standing is worship in other places such as prayer and adhan and offering du'a on 'Arafah. And exposure to the sun is a means of getting closer to Allah for the one in ihram, so this indicates that everything that is a means of getting close to Allah on a particular occasion is not a means of getting close on every occasion, rather one follows what occurs in the Shari'ah in it's correct place for everything." It is known in the Shari'ah that an oath which involves disobedience to Allah does not require fulfilment. ^back
- As for the deception of the people of bid'ah in saying that the collection of the ahadith of the Messenger, peace be upon him, as an innovation, then this is simply not true. From Abu Qabil who said, "We were with 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr ibn Al-'As and he was asked which city will be conquered first Constantinople or Rome? So 'Abdullah called for a sealed trunk and he said, 'Take out a book from it.' Then 'Abdullah said, 'Whilst we were with the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, writing, the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, was asked, 'Which city will be conquered first, Constantinople or Rome?' So Allah's Messenger said, 'The city of Heraclius will be conquered first' meaning Constantinople." [Related by Ahmad (2/176), Ad-Darimi (1/126) and Al-Hakim (3/422)] So this narration shows that some of the Companions did write the ahadith of the Messenger, peace be upon him, in his presence. ^back
- Ibn Hajar on bid'ah in Fath (13/314+) Kitab ul-I'tisam, Chapter: Following The Sunan of The Prophet, peace be upon him; "His saying, 'and the worst of matters are the newly invented matters', and muhadathat means the newly invented matters that have no basis in the Shari'ah, and the are called according to the convention of the Shari'ah bid'ah, and that which has a basis in the Shari'ah that would prove it then it is not a bid'ah. So bid'ah in the convention of the Shari'ah is blameworthy in contravention to the language, for linguistically every thing that is newly invented, be it blameworthy or praiseworthy, is called bid'ah ... and Ash-Shafi'i said, 'bid'ah is of two types ... ' Reported by Abu Nu'aym via the route of Ibrahim ibn Junayd, and there occurs from Ash-Shafi'i also what is reported by Al-Bayhaqi in his Manaqib. And some of the scholars divided bid'ah into the five categories of ahkam and this is clear. And it is established from Ibn Mas'ud that he said, 'Indeed you have matured upon the fitrah, but indeed you shall innovate, and things shall be innovated for you, so when you see the innovations then stick to the original guidance' ... And Imam Ahmad reported with a good sanad from Ghadif ibn Al-Harith who said, 'Al-Malik ibn Marwan sent (someone) to me and he said: indeed we gather the people for two matters: raising the hands (for du'a) upon the minbar on the day of Jum'ah, and giving exhortations after the fajr and 'asr prayers. So he said: as for these two, then they are examples of your innovations in my opinion and I will not accept anything of them from you because the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, 'A people do not introduce an innovation except that a Sunnah the likes of it is raised (i.e. forgotten and neglected)' and sticking to the Sunnah is better then introducing a bid'ah' so if this was the answer of this Sahabi concerning a matter that has a basis in the religion, then what do you think the case would be concerning a matter that has no basis in the religion? And how about when it includes things that contradict the Sunnah? ... and this matter (of giving exhortations) was present during the time of the Prophet, peace be upon him, but it was not done constantly like the Jum'ah khutbah rather it was done as the need dictated. And as for his saying in the hadith of Al-Irbadh, 'indeed every bid'ah is a misguidance' after saying, 'and beware of the newly invented matters' proves that newly invented matters are called bid'ah. And his saying, 'and indeed every bid'ah is misguidance' is a complete Shari'ah principle both in wording and understanding. As for in wording then it is as if it is said, 'the ruling of such and such is that it is a bid'ah and every bid'ah is a misguidance' and so it would not be from the Shari'ah because the Shari'ah, in it's totality, is guidance...and the meaning of his words 'every bid'ah is a misguidance' is that which has been introduced that has no evidence in either a specific or general way ... Ibn 'Abdis-Salam said at the end of Al-Qawa'id: bid'ahis of five classifications [mentioning the five and some examples of them]." [End of ibn Hajar's words]. There are some points to be recognized here: (i) Ibn Hajar's quoting from Imam Ash-Shafi'i after making clear that in the language bid'ah is of two types but in the Shari'ah it is only one; (ii) indicating that he understands the statement 'praiseworthy bid'ah' in the linguistic sense as did Ibn Rajab; and (iii) His quoting Ibn 'Abdis-Salam in his classifying bid'ah into 5 categories but he himself saying, 'and the meaning of his words 'every bid'ah is a misguidance' is that which has been introduced that has no evidence in either a specific or general way' and other similar statements. ^back